Hello everyone! I hope you all are having a splendid morning, afternoon, or evening and you’re ready for another book recommendations post!
In case you’re new to the Pond’s recommendation posts, the recommendation posts are brought to you by Varian, the Pond’s very own Toadshifter who is knowledgeable in all kinds of magic! One of Varian’s ambitions is to get better at sewing, hence why whenever Varian has shown you their latest costume, they will always recommend a book that inspired that costume.
We all love a good heist. The tension, the thrill of possibly succeeding and failing, the rag-tag group of characters whom we all come to learn about and love, and the satisfaction of them pulling it off (or, alternatively, the horror of them failing).
But listen, friends: we really need to stop comparing every diverse heist book to Six of Crows. I feel no hate towards Six of Crows, but I’m tired of seeing Six of Crows being treated as the cornerstone of diversity and seeing every heist story, even if fundamentally different in terms of themes, discourse, or even characters, compared to it. (Nandini breaks it down much more eloquently than I ever could in her Twitter thread here and Karina discussed the implications of comparing diverse books with books written by White authors.)
A common thing I hear is that people don’t know what other heist books exist – which is why, today, I’ve decided to put together a book recommendation post dedicated to diverse heist stories!
And of course, Varian was so inspired by the heist stories that they have read (and recommend in this post today!) that, with the help of Sprout the Sparrow’s knowledge in mystical cloaks, they created a special cloak that helps them disguise themself in the trees! Varian will definitely be able to pull off some awesome heists now. (But really, we know they’re just going to play sophisticated pranks on Xiaolong.)
BENEATH THE CITADEL BY DESTINY SORIA
If you love higher fantasy, stories about the fragility of memories, and morally-grey queer teens with clear motives who are trying to take down a corrupt government, then maybe you’ll love Beneath the Citadel.
- Follows five teens in alternating narratives (which were easy to follow!) who are forced to make a deal and choose to either destroy a wicked being that dwells below the citadel – or to help the being destroy the corruption above.
- Despite being guided by clear motivations and principles, this is a story that explores the ambiguity of morality and what we do when we are put in situations that challenge who we are.
- Though this book has a mystery component that will keep you guessing, it also features found family, wonderful characters who are unique and strong in different ways, and a wholesome m/m romance.
- The cast of characters are unique and strong in wonderful ways and their identities were fleshed out and meaningful too. Cassa, Alys, and Evander are characters of colour; Alys is also fat, asexual, and has anxiety (which I thought was fantastically depicted), and Newt is gay.
THE GILDED WOLVES BY ROSHANI CHOKSHI
If you love the idea of a heist that involves ancient orders, fantastical forces, and discourse in colonialism all set in the context of 1880’s France, then you can’t go wrong with The Gilded Wolves.
- Follows six teens who plot a heist to hunt down an ancient artefact – their quest involves them solving puzzles, elaborate disguises, and reckoning with powerful forces.
- A highlight of this book is the magnetic dynamic between the characters. Friendship, romance, and found family are at the heart of this story.
- As well as heists and puzzles and all the action, The Gilded Wolves also explores themes and the implications of colonialism.
- The cast of characters were wonderful! Comprising of: a biracial Algerian/French hotelier and leader of the group who is trying to reclaim his inheritance, his little brother who is a botanist, an Indian dancer with magical abilities, an autistic Jewish mathematician, and a biracial Filipino/Spanish historian, and Black French aristocrat.
THE DISASTERS BY M.K. ENGLAND
If you love heists and if you always wished there was a queer space sci-fi book, then you’re in luck! The Disasters is a solid space adventure that is action-packed, incredibly fun, and charming!
- Follows six teens, recently kicked out of space academy, who are framed for murders they didn’t commit – and now they have to pull off a series of heists to save the world and clear their name.
- Though this is, at its heart, a simple space adventure, it also has great character development and relationships that propel the story forward! (There’s even a love triangle, but it’s done well.)
- Like most heist books, this prominently features found family! And the way that the relationships develop is so satisfying and wholesome.
- Nax is a bisexual Pakistani-American pilot, Zee is a Khazistani trans girl and a genius medic, Rion is queer, Black, and British son-of-a-diplomat, Case is a prodigy engineering teen with anxiety and panic disorders, and Asra who is hijiabi genius hacker. And I really loved all the characters and how their identities intersected with the story.
WANT BY CINDY PON
If you’re looking for a heist story that has themes of environmentalism and explores the implications of corruption and wealth disparities in a distant futuristic setting, then you need to read this book.
- Follows five teens who work together to infiltrate and bring down a rich and powerful corporation who manufacture powerful suits that protect the rich from the world’s pollution.
- This is a perfect blend of science-fiction and dystopia (though the setting doesn’t feel far off from what’s going on today), and even criticises industrialisation, explores the effects of the climate on rich versus the poor, and corporate greed.
- Not only is there found family, but there’s also a forbidden romance as well! There’s also a very sweet f/f relationship, and the friendships in this will remind you of why we fight for good.
- Want’s cast is one of my favourites; I loved them all. Zhou and Daiyu were Taiwanese, Lingyi is bi or pan and Chinese, Iris is non-specific Asian, Arun is Indian, and Victor is Filipino!
I hope you all found a new book to add to your to-read lists! To reiterate, I hope we can move beyond comparing all diverse heist books to Six of Crows by picking up and reading other diverse heist books and recognising that the stories and characters and themes are very different – and that we can appreciate those differences and the unique aspects that make the book awesome.
- Have you read any of the book above? What did you think of them?
- Do you have any book recommendations to add to this list?
- What is your favourite heist story (diverse, or otherwise)? What is something that you love – or don’t love – about heist stories?